Mount Norquay contains one of three main ski resorts in Banff National Park, one of four connecting national parks located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Norquay also makes for a difficult and exposed scramble to the “true” summit. It was officially named in 1904 after the premier of Manitoba. He had climbed part way up the mountain 20 years earlier while he was premier. Mt. Norquay was actually first ascended to the summit by Greenham in 1917.
The only published route is the difficult scramble, which is exposed for several sections. It clearly sports a false summit high above the ski resort, but the true summit is nestled further north among the Devonian age limestone mountains of Louis
and the three summits of Edith
. Mount Norquay’s false summit and ski runs are clearly viewed from the Trans-Canada as you drive towards Banff. Norquay’s true summit is not a ski hill. Fatalities have occurred on this mountain and rescues are common place due to its proximity to town.
Its summit, despite its size, gives up a surprising glimpse of Assiniboine to the south.
The Trans-Canada Highway dissects Banff National Park east to west as you come in from Calgary. Take the second Banff town exit and turn right towards the Norquay Ski Resort. Climb the Norquay Ski area access road for 6 km until it dead ends into a parking lot on your left. There is no parking restriction for this lot.
You will be required to purchase a national park pass as you enter the park. This pass is good for all four national parks. If you plan many visits to Canadian National Parks within one year, you should purchase an annual pass. There are no permit requirements to climb in Banff National Park, but all camping is regulated. There is also a backcountry permit required if you plan on spending a night in the backcountry versus the town campsites. This can be obtained via the parks website which is included in the camping section below. Park headquarters are located in Banff and you will drive through the manned kiosks as you enter the park.
This is active grizzly country, therefore, you should always have bear spray on your person. We just had a grizzly fatality in Canmore, June, 2005. A grizzly approached my vehicle when I ascended Cascade Mountain from the same parking area. The Norquay Ski Resort summer caretaker had advised me of his presence and it was an ironic case of being in the wilderness all day and finding a grizzly back at the parking lot.
I advise checking with Parks Canada
for any area and/or trail closures.
When To Climb
As with most scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed Norquay in June and the route was in condition.
You can go on line at Banff National Park
to pick your camp site and obtain your camping permit. The closest camping is back in the town site of Banff. You will also be required to obtain your backcountry permit, if you are going to use a backcountry site, which is separate, but can be obtained simultaneously.
Mountain ConditionsBanff National Park’s website
has weather, wildlife reports, trail closures, etc. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association
is also useful, particularly for winter travel.